Scene 1.13 - Uncovering Eve
The Kindred Fortress:
Arik pulled back slightly. He was startled to see the woman already stirring. He knew he needed to secure her before she came to her senses. She'd proven to be a very dangerous creature indeed, just as he'd been warned.
He couldn't allow her free reign of the fortress when he'd already seen what she was capable of—he couldn't make that same mistake twice. Until he was certain she could be trusted, if that were even possible now, he would have to keep her contained and subdued.
She seemed to regenerate as quickly as any of the Kindred did when they were wounded. The fact that she looked human wouldn't sway him. He'd already underestimated her abilities once and the consequences could have been disastrous for everyone left in his care.
He reached down and deftly hoisted her into his arms, holding her close to his body as he walked. He could feel the power swirling in the water beside him and it lifted his spirits immensely. It had sat empty for a very long time, devoid of that which they needed in order to survive. The tables were turning now, though. He could feel it in the air all around him. This was the first time he'd had any feelings of hope since that fateful day so very long ago.
The energy within it would begin to circulate through the entire fortress, bringing life back to every corner that has sat dark and empty for an eternity. He was curious to see how the upper levels had faired during the time of their absence. He was eager to lay eyes upon it after all this time.
He could see changes already occurring at an impressive rate. Evidence of that fact appeared as he walked through the dusty, stone corridors. Sconces on the walls were dimly lit, illuminating the area once more. Soon they would glow brighter as the flow of energy from the reservoir radiated outward.
Once upon a time, their technology had given them all the creature comforts of any species living on the planet. Then they had been cut off from the rest of the world. All of that had changed in the blink of an eye. Now, for the first time in ages, everything was being recharged and restored back to life. The woman's arrival could have crippled them this day, but instead it had brought about a life-altering miracle. He could only wonder what this might mean for the Kindred's future.
This woman was a wild card. There was no doubt about that. Just looking around at the minute changes already taking place, he knew that he needed to try and ensure her survival. It was imperative that he should keep her safe. He'd give her anything she wanted to merely remain with them in peace, if that was what it took. If she wanted complete solitude away from the Kindred, he would see that she got it. It seemed her mere presence in the fortress was all they required for life to finally resume as it had once long ago.
He rounded a corner and took the stairs that brought him into the upper levels of the building. He moved as quickly as he could, however these halls were a sight he hadn't viewed in centuries. He couldn't believe how untouched everything appeared.
The forcefield that sealed them inside seemed to have preserved every facet of the building. Still, nothing could prepare him for the sight that awaited his eyes. Color! It was a thing he had forgotten even existed. Despite the presence of dust that could easily be brushed away, everything appeared intact and untarnished due to the age of time.
Crossing over the threshold of a long hallway, he thought it might suffice as well as any other shelter for her. It had once housed over a dozen Kindred families. It should provide plenty of room for her to roam and explore. Using the fresh reserve of energy he now possessed, he placed a seal across the hallway as a barrier that would hopefully keep her safely captured within.
He couldn't recall who had lived in these rooms, but surely one would have been a female her size. She'd need warmer clothing than the linen she'd been wearing. It would take time for the building to heat up under its new source of power. It could be hours before it was a livable temperature for her. Humans needed warmth to survive—even extraordinary ones such as her.
Pressing the stiff iron latch of one handle, he looked inside the room and thought it might do. A large oval bed sat in the center of the room. Focusing his attention upon it, he allowed a burst of energy to spring forth that disintegrated every particle of dust that marred the surface of it. Satisfied, he carefully settled her down upon it and inspected a blanket that lay folded at the foot of it. It felt thick enough to hold back the chill in the air.
Unfolding it, he brought it up to cover her, but then he paused when he noticed some of the injuries he hadn't seen earlier. It was clear she'd been involved in a fight. Dark marks littered her torso from end to end. Both of her wrists were blackened with bruises that seemed to be covering layers of deep scars. She'd been shackled for a very long time with tight restraints, he realized.
Was she truly that dangerous? So far, the facts did not weigh in her favor…
Lowering the blanket over her, he intended to leave in search of clothing when he felt a change coming over her. She had not yet moved, but he felt the shift of energy expanding out around her. She was silently examining her new surroundings. So, she was conscious. How long had she been so?
Suddenly, she took a deep breath and he saw her bracing herself to try and sit up. That was something he couldn't allow just yet.
"Lie still," he warned at once, placing a bond of energy around her to keep her in place. If she still held malevolent intent toward the fortress, he needed to know.
Her tongue darted out minutely to lick her lips. She seemed to be pensively weighing out whatever words she might have spoken. Instead, she stiffened slightly to test the strength of the invisible bonds that held her immobile.
Just when he thought he was in control of the situation, she surprised him again. Her lips pursed as the bond that held her evaporated. She had absorbed the energy effortlessly into her being, again free to move. Seeing her begin to sit up, his ire lit and frustration took hold of him. Kneeling over her, he pressed her roughly back in place.
"Do not move," he grated angrily. Ignoring her gasp of surprised pain, he gripped her shoulders to hold her still. "You will not rise. The hell you are capable of raising is at an end. Next time you want to unleash your wrath upon the place, perhaps you could keep the death toll to a minimum."
Raising her chin defiantly, she spat, "I took no life! I could have though. Believe it."
"You're very wrong, you know. Where do you think all that energy you drew upon came from?" He shook his head at her, unwilling to believe she was that ignorant. "Where do you think that kind of power comes from? It's doubtful we'll see any sign of life in this vicinity for a very long time to come. Most of the life on this planet exists for a reason. You should consider that before destroying it so maliciously."
The fight in her ceased almost immediately and he thought she looked humbled by his fury. Chastened, his words made their mark upon her.
"Please let go," she muttered meekly. "Your touch hurts."
Reminded of the fragility of her human body, Arik dropped his hands from her at once. Despite the power she was capable of wielding, it seemed her tender flesh was quite easily damaged. The wounds on her skin attested to that fact.
Withdrawing hesitantly, he didn't trust her enough to fully rise from the bed. Perhaps a word of warning would caution her from trying it again. "I haven't had time to find clothing for you yet. You might want to consider that."
Her face paled under the revelation. He could imagine her hands touching bare skin beneath the blanket, imagining that knowledge might keep her compliant for the moment. Her immediate frown told him it just might.
"Where am I," she finally whispered in defeat. The urge to fight him had apparently vanished from her mind.
"You are where the world ended," he told her. "A place no one can enter and none of us will ever leave."
"Be serious! Where is this place? And, who are you?"
I am Arik. One whom you should tread lightly around from this moment forth…
It was on the tip of his tongue to answer her, yet instead he said, "I am always serious. None of this amuses me. You are in the fortress of the Kindred. It is indeed a place from which there is no escape."
Slapping a hand to her forehead in frustration, she let out a long suffering sigh. "Keep your secrets then. I'm not playing along anymore."
It was obvious she didn't believe a word he was saying. Who could blame her, really? It had taken them all ages to accept their fate and even still, here he was holding onto the belief that it might one day be possible to finally escape captivity himself.
"The truth will come to you in time," he assured her at last. "We have nothing here but time to discuss such things."
"Will you stop it! Just get on with your experiments and have a good laugh at me, along with all the others. Will you?"
Arik felt the emotion of rage beginning to swell within her. He could literally feel the change elicited from deep within her being. Anger had the same effect on her that it did within him. It was an emotion he understood completely, one that he had no literal control over and had to fight against with every fiber of his being.
"Stop," he suddenly hushed her. Moving back over her, he captured her face gingerly in the palm of one hand as the other wended its way under the blanket to the center of her chest. She stiffened against him, but he was already pulling the building energy directly from her core into his own body.
Her breathing suddenly stopped as her mouth dropped open. He could feel her heart pounding furiously beneath his hand. Then she inhaled deeply in an effort to regain control of her faculties.
"What are you doing to me," she gasped.
"Helping you, since you can't seem to help yourself." Even as he spoke, his mind was on other things. The feel of her beneath him was affecting him in a way he had not anticipated. Her confusion began to disarm him. He had sat adrift in an emotionless void for so long that these raging waves from one extreme to the other left him reeling in response.
"You did this before," she breathed up at him. "You took it away. It feels so—" Words seemed to fail her then, as if there was simply no way to describe what she felt. "How do you do that?"
So she had been conscious on some level, he realized. Even if she had not been fully awake, she'd been aware enough to feel what he'd been doing. What good would it do to try and explain any of it to her? He had no idea how much of it she'd even understand. Then again, what if she understood it completely, merely baiting him to gain knowledge of it to use as a new threat against him or the rest of the Kindred?
Unwilling to part with any information that dangerous, he instead asked the question that had been plaguing him for hours. "Why are your eyes bound in such wrappings?"
"It was something they sprayed in my eyes to blind me," she replied with bitter contempt. "It doesn't hurt now though."
"Can it be removed," he asked, wondering what she would think if she finally opened her eyes to look at him. That would most certainly assure her that he was not lying. She was no longer living within the world of humans. Would she be surprised or revolted? He imagined a great deal of both…
A cautious shrug signaled him that she supposed the bandages were no longer necessary. Making the decision for her, he removed his hand from her chest and reached up to thumb the material up slowly to uncover her eyes. He mentally prepared himself to accept the moment of fear that would invade her eyes when she looked at him. She would see for herself that he in no way resembled the image of a mere mortal. Far from it!
Her eyes blinked slowly open, just barely slitting a hair's breath at first. Then they widened as she squinted against the dim light. It appeared to discomfort her as she tested her tolerance of it. The moment she gained her bearings and opened them fully, Arik's entire world seemed to stop spinning on its axis.
He drew back as a level of revulsion and horror overcame his own features, unbidden. The immediate distaste he felt was something he could not disguise.
"Not human," he hissed, backing away from her and the bed.
Her eyes! Obsidian black! They stared up at him in what he'd come to revile as an abomination of nature. He could not remain where he was without letting loose a litany of curses as old as mankind itself. In complete and utter refusal to accept what he was seeing, he evaporated into thin air. In seconds, he was fleeing for the furthest reaches of the fortress.
What malicious intent must those creatures have to bring one of her kind into his domain? No wonder she possessed abilities he had never seen within a human. She wasn't human!
Was she part of some sort of a deception? Rather than bringing them salvation, had the Kindred finally been brought some inevitable tool of destruction instead?
His rage in that moment was boundless, yet he had no way to unleash it. What a fool he was to think any gift from the Greys could come without consequence! No. A gift, she most certainly wasn't. More likely, this woman had been brought to bring doom down upon them all. What he had seen so far told him she was a weapon created for the sole purpose of destroying everything they had left in the world.
He needed to think. He needed to vent! And, in that moment, he needed to remove himself as far from her presence as he possibly could. If he remained within a mile of her, he was likely going to kill her…